Backlash: The Reaction to Mind Sciences in Legal Academia

Adam Benforado and Jon Hanson

in Ideology, Psychology, and Law

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199737512
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918638 | DOI:

Series: Series in Political Psychology

Backlash: The Reaction to Mind Sciences in Legal Academia

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This chapter demonstrates that naive cynicism is a pervasive dynamic that shapes policy debates big and small. It argues that naïve cynicism can operate at a particular moment or over long periods of time, and that naïve cynicism is embraced and encouraged by both elite knowledge-producers and the average person on the street. Examining the reactions of prominent academics to situationist scholarship, the chapter offers evidence that naive cynicism has played a significant role in retarding the growth and influence of insights drawn from social psychology and related fields within the dominant legal theoretical frameworks of the last half-century. Despite providing a more accurate depiction of the behavior of legal actors, this research from the mind sciences has been dismissed for decades in favor of commonsense dispositionist notions of causation, responsibility, and blame.

Keywords: backlash; dispositionism; ideology; law; law and mind sciences; legal theory; naïve cynicism; naïve realism; situationism; IAT; racism

Chapter.  14838 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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